Dave Burrell: Momentum


  1. Downfall
  2. Broken Promise Download Broken Promise
  3. Fade to Black
  4. 4:30 to Atlanta
  5. Cool Reception
  6. Momentum
  7. Coup d’Etat

Dave Burrell – piano
Michael Formanek – bass
Guillermo E. Brown – drums

All Compositions by Dave Burrell (Lanikai Sounds Publishing Co., BMI)

Produced by Mark Christman and Daniel Piotrowski

Recorded by Jon Rosenberg at Systems Two, Brooklyn (November 2005)
Mixed by Eugene Lew with Mark Christman at Equalloudness, Philadelphia (April 2006)

Photography by Shawn Brackbill
Design by Steven O’Malley

Dave Burrell has long been recognized as an important pianist among the most astute jazz fans. Best known for his contributions to the music of Archie Shepp, David Murray, Pharaoh Sanders, and others, Burrell has finally positioned himself as one of the pre-eminent bandleaders in jazz. After a long hiatus from recording, Dave Burrell returned in 2004 with the album Expansion (High Two). His new trio recording, Momentum, is his best and most assured album to date.

Fronting a new, more dyanmic trio, featuring bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Guillermo E. Brown, Burrell shows a brave and complex new vision for jazz – one that respects precedents while forging a new path, all without falling into the traps of wandering improvisation. While Formanek and Brown lay the foundation, the pianist boldly roams in and out of the structure of his compositions, elegantly improvising on the songs’ motifs.Momentum is a lesson in both vigor and restraint – a captivating achievement that is certain to impress and attract.

After going nearly 30 years without a proper studio recording as a group leader, Dave Burrell returned with a definitive recording, 2004’s Expansion. Despite the long break from group recordings, Burrell was anything but inactive during that period. He worked for many years with David Murray and experiment in composing music in a variety of genres, breaking away from free jazz that established his career in the 1960s.

While Expansion captured the variety of Burrell’s compositional and improvisational skills, Momentum achieves a brilliant cohesiveness. Joined in the studio for the first time by either Formanek or Brown, Burrell plays much more inside the jazz tradition than at any point in his career. That’s not to say that Burrell has compromised his innovative style, but his new working trio combines for a more eloquent and sophisticated sound.

Although Burrell is the composer and leader of the group, he is not one to monopolize the spotlight; Burrell understands the power of collaboration. He allows his bandmates to weigh in not just with solos, but allows stylistic control. Just as he let bassist William Parker and drummer Andrew Cyrille help shape the tone of Expansion, his new compatriots, both bandleaders in their own right, help define Momentum.

Fomanek, known for his longtime association with Tim Berne and his work with Joe Henderson and Fred Hersch, has added a stabilizing dimension to Burrell’s music. Brown inserts a complex rhythmic dimension into Burrell’s pieces. Equally influenced by jazz and electronic music, Brown is a new kind of jazz drummer. As a member of the David S. Ware quartet and some of Matthew Shipp’s various ensembles, Brown established himself as a new voice behind the drums, but rarely has been as innovative as on Momentum.

Burrell composed six new compositions for Momentum. Picking up on some of the motifs from Expansion. Influenced by the continuing conflict in the Middle East and discontent in the U.S., Momentum is full of dark contemplation, but also of inspiration and promise.

Three of the pieces come from a score Burrell composed for the Oscar Micheaux silent film, Body and Soul(which starred Paul Robeson in his first film role). “Downfall,” “4:30 to Atlanta” and “Broken Promise” were first performed to accompany the film in Spring 2005.

When Expansion received various accolades from such outlets as NPR, DownbeatThe WireVillage Voice, andJazzTimes, Burrell set out to make an even better record. As a reference point, he sought out to re-tackle one of the tricky compositions from Expansion for Momentum, “Coud d’Etat.” With Brown and Formanek giving the piece a deeper, smoother base, Burrell carves out the melody. The new version shows not just a new arrangement, but how Burrell continues to change, adapt, and develop – an artist still taking risks and growing forty years into his career.


Harp {Byron Coley, Jan/Feb 2007} “Dave Burrell’s genius as an improviser lies in his talent to obliterate conventions and stylistic gulfs that would swallow most people whole. . . . Burrell’s fully on his game here. He successfully interpolates great gobs of jazz history without getting overly preachy.”

Jazz Times {Brent Burton, Jan/Feb 2007} “Momentum, shows that Burrell’s art, unlike his reputation, is anything but tethered to the past.”

All About Jazz {Troy Collins, Dec 2006} “Burrell hones in on the jazz tradition with intensity and focus, delivering one of the finest statements of his career. . . . Momentum is a mature and haunting album from an acknowledged master—and a definitive statement from an under-appreciated legend.”

Philadelphia City Paper {Shaun Brady, Dec. 21, 2006} Number 1 Jazz Album of 2006: “Burrell elaborates haunting melodies into bluesy swing and stabbing dissonance, engaging his DB3 trio in tense, shifting interplay.”

Bagatellen {Derek Taylor, Nov 11, 2006} “As with Expansion, there’s a unified feel to the set and the tracks progress from overcast gloom to almost an almost optimistic countenance on the closing new version of “Coup d’Etat”, itself perhaps a bit of musical palmistry presaging the recent electoral reversal. At just under three-quarters of an hour it’s also a welcome exercise in economy, one that makes repeat spins all the more remunerative.”

Exclaim! {Nate Dorward, Nov 11, 2006} “Burrell remains one of jazz’s true originals, capable of beguiling you with a sprightly passage of stride piano before knocking you over with a keyboard-pummelling washout. And while Momentum may be one of his less fiery outings, its dark intensity still puts virtually every contemporary jazz piano recording in the shade..”

All About Jazz {Ian Patterson, Jan 2007} “Momentum is a high point in Dave Burrell’s forty-year career. Much of the album’s success is down to the energy and creativity of his fellow musicians, Formanek and Brown, who contribute enormously to this collective jewel, which is eccentric yet straightahead, abstract yet tuneful, simple yet sophisticated.”

Jazz Review {Lyn Horton, Dec 2006}  “The beginning and end to any single song are crystal clear. They define the choice of limits for the steadfast focus of a piano master. The memory of how Burrell speaks through his instrument is indelible. The pleasurable memory of Momentum is inescapable.”

Order Dave Burrell - Momentum


New! Sonic Liberation 8 – BOMBOGENIC

Introducing Bombogenic – Sonic Liberation 8 with The Classical Revolution Trio & Oliver Lake. 2016 [HT-35, 12″ LP, HT-36 CD, & Digital Download]…

Introducing the Jetpack series

The Jetpack series is a companion to Jetway Confidential and follow-up to critically acclaimed album Sonic Liberation Front meets Sunny Murray.

The three-release series features alternate takes, exclusive tracks, …

New Sonic Liberation Front CD — Jetway Confidential

Like an exposé of the past and a prediction of the future, Sonic Liberation Front melds together sounds and time periods in a manner like no other band around today. …

Latest Releases

Sonic Liberation Front

Bombogenic LP

HT035 | Mar 2016

Bombogenic CD

HT036 | Mar 2016
Sonic Liberation Front

Jetpack 2 – Live at the High Wire Digital EP

HT032 | Jun 2013
Sonic Liberation Front

Jetpack 1 – It Man Digital EP

HT031 | Apr 2013